Trump And Brexit Push Readers To The Left -- Switching Or Social Sharing?

Social media blew up a storm this week after The Daily Mail's front page summed up a meeting between Scottish First Minister and The UK Prime Minister as "Legs-It." Never mind Brexit -- who won the battle of the legs? the paper asked, referring to both women wearing skirts.

Yes -- I kid you not -- when the leaders of Scotland and the UK held a meeting, against a backdrop of calls for independence and qualms over Article 50, that's the headline the Daily Mail went with.

It fits perfectly with Hitwise's research, reported on today in netimperative, which shows that The Guardian and The Independent are gaining new audiences from the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Express. The figures peak at 13% of readers of new, additional readers at The Independent are coming from traditional readers of The Express. At first glance it may appear to be pretty damning of the more right-wing, tabloid press. The same figures show that the big stories being read generally revolved around Trump and Brexit, as you would almost certainly assume.

So it's pretty easy to look at Hitwise's figures and say the public has had enough of the "Legs-it" type headline -- they're switching to more left-leaning broadsheets, albeit online.

However, it's worth pointing out that the number of people going directly to read the news at a specific news brand site has only gone up from one in ten to one in nine of all Internet visits. It's still pretty high, but if you compare that to how many people are visiting Facebook and Twitter every day, it pales into insignificance.

The story of people switching from solely reading the right-wing press may have something to it, but it's a fraction of the truth. For me, the clear and most likely explanation is that social media is generally dominated by liberally minded people who are sharing headlines from the newspapers they have always supported and which have no paywall. For me, this is all about social sharing and the newspapers now needing to realise that people are coming through social channels more than they are through direct ones.

You only need to check out the table accompanying the research to see how The Daily Mail still has a massive traffic lead over The Guardian and holds on to those people for at least a minute longer. Articles in The Guardian and Independent that people have shared online have not dented its huge lead.

But here's a point worth making. When you look at attention graphs for the news media, you see a funny thing. Facebook is way out there as the tallest skyscraper on the graph, with what could best be described as a high-rise BBC next to it, but still way below. Then we have a pimple -- a house, maybe -- next to the BBC, which is The Daily Mail. The rest of the media landscape hardly registers a blip on the graph. 

So Facebook is where it's at for media discovery -- and for me, that's why so many more people have started to read Guardian and Independent stories by liberally minded people.

This is about sharing, not switching.

Next story loading loading..